Monday, January 30, 2012

New releases coming soon

by Vivian Zabel

    Coming from 4RV Publishing in March are Pony Strings & Critter Things, Life on Hold, and Wolf, which have covers already prepared, plus First Flag of New Hampshire, Rhino Crashes & Critter ClassesPorcupine's Seeds, and Boo's Bad Day  -- covers coming soon.

     Pony Strings & Critter Things is the third book in the critter series by Rena Jones. The first two in the series were illustrated by Nikki (Shoemaker) Boetger, while this book is illustrated by Ginger Nielson. Answers for the names of another 21 critter groups are found within its pages.

     Life on Hold by Beverly Stowe McClure (cover art by Aidana WillowRaven) is a young adult novel about the confusion in the mind an heart of a young sixteen-year-old. Myra Gibson's life is a lie. For sixteen years her parents have kept their secret, but the adoption paper she discovers while cleaning the summerhouse tells the truth.

     Wolf  by Harry (Brian) Porter, a young adult book, is illustrated by Theresa StitesLiving the good life in their cabin close to the forest, Warren and Emma are disturbed to find their livestock disappearing in the night. Tracks in the snow lead them to believe their chickens may have fallen victim to a marauding wolf, and Warren sets out to track down the uninvited predator. What he discovers, as the snow begins to fall and he draws ever closer to his prey, will surprise and delight the reader as the truth about the wolf in the night reveals itself, changing Warren’s life forever.

     Rhino Crashes & Critter Classes is the fourth in the critter series by Rena Jones, and the second one illustrated by Ginger Nielson.  

     First Flag of New Hampshire  by Stephanie Burkhart and illustrated with black and white images by Ginger Nielson is the first in a trilogy of young adult books about New England. 

     Porcupine's Seeds is the first picture book by Viji Chary through 4RV Publishing and the second to be illustrated by Bridget McKenna. Porcupine begins to believe he will never be able to grown flowers.

     Boo's Bad Day, picture book written by Penny Ehrenkranz and illustrated by Theresa Stites, follows one day in a small kitten's life.

    Please check the 4RV Bookstore for the final releases of each.

4RV Publishing

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Make a protagonist live

by Vivian Zabel  

         Every plot needs a protagonist, a hero or heroine, maybe one of each. How do we make them real, not caricatures?

          All stories and novels, even many poems, have a hero or heroine. More and more heroines fill the bookshelves, too. What characteristics do we want in our protagonist? For what do we search when we read, use when we write? Let’s examine creating a hero (I’ll just use the term hero for the rest of the editorial, but everything applies to a heroine, too).

         A hero needs to be believable.

         "Okay, fine," someone says. "How does a writer make a hero believable?"

         One way is to pay attention to the small stuff, the details. That doesn’t mean as writers we have to include everything possible in the story or novel, but we should have the hero so developed, in our minds, that he or she lives.

          Natashya Wilson,, as well as numerous composition books and my notes from writing classes, workshops, and clinics include the following information when examining the components of a hero:

1. The hero should be appealing and should inspire.

         Reading about him/her should give readers a feelings that they, the readers, too can achieve their goals. The hero should help readers to find courage and the will to continue. Any hero needs to be strong and intelligent, as well as be human with flaws that readers can understand, but with the ability needed to succeed.

         No matter what, the reader must be able to relate to the hero on some level.

2. The writer needs to develop the hero completely.

         I noted earlier that the heroes should be developed in our minds until they are real. We should have a background, childhood, friends, family, home, and likes and dislikes all in our mental files. We need to note his motivations, phobias, the people he respects. Not all the information will go into our stories or novels, but the details are there, making our hero real. If we made our heroes live for us, they are more likely to live for readers.

3. Every hero needs a special skill or quality.

         We should ask ourselves what gives him an advantage over the bad guy or guys, and why he doesn’t give up? Then we use those answers to enhance our hero.

4. The characters around the hero need to be interesting and fully developed, too.

         Those around our hero should be worthy of him. The love interest and the villains should have depth, be realistic and believable. The hero should have a reason to love the other person; the heroine should be in love with someone worth loving. The villain should test the merit of the hero.

5. The plot should grab the reader’s attention and challenge the hero.

         Readers have to care what happens and want to continue reading.

6. Make sure the hero has an emotional stake in the outcome.

         Another way to help the reader care is to create an emotional stake for the hero. He shouldn’t want to “win” just because it’s his job or is the “right” thing to do.

7. Add a touch of romance.

         A bit of romance enlivens the plot and makes the hero more human. The romance should not be the main focus or just thrown it, but it should be a natural part of the story.

         Many of today's stories and novels throw in romance and/or sex scenes without ryhyme or reason (used a cliché, I know). Anything inserted in a story, including romance, needs to add to the plot, move the story on, and/or enhance our interest in the hero or another character.

8. Write for your audience.

         Who do you want to read and enjoy the story or novel? The plot and characters should appeal to those people.

9. Make dialogue believable.

          Nothing ruins a hero, or a story, for a reader faster than stilted or contrived dialogue. Practice what you write. Speak it aloud. Try it out. Is there unnecessary profanity? Do characters “talk” so that readers understand as well as other characters? Listen to people talk, and then clarify for readers.

          The tips above will help make our protagonists live in our writings.

4RV Publishing  
4RV Bookstore   Remodeling complete and sale is still in effect.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Promotion: Carla's Cloud Catastrophe review

posted by Vivian Zabel 

     The following was posted in The Midwest Book Review for January, in The Picture Book Shelf section.

Carla's Cloud Catastrophe
Beth Bence Reinke, author
Ginger Nielson, illustrator
4 RV Publishing
P.O. Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083
9780982834602, $13.99
"Carla's Cloud Catastrophe" is a tall tale about a birthday-party-crashing cloud catastrophe that challenges Carla (whose birthday party it is) to come up with an extreme solution to save the day (and her birthday party! The whimsical colored illustrations show puffs and piles of excess clouds everywhere except up in the sky where they belong. Kids age 4-8 will enjoy the ridiculousness of the cloud catastrophe and get caught up in the need for a quick solution to save the birthday cake (and party). "Carla's Cloud Catastrophe" has lots of lovely descriptive prose as well as animated, dreamy illustrations, making it fun and memorable to kids everywhere.

     Carla's Cloud Catastrophe is found in the 4RV Publishing Bookstore and is on sale.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Critique Group by Katie Hines

Some writers will say they don't use a critique group; others wouldn't consider their manuscript polished without the input from one. There are both online critique groups and face-to-face groups. Whether you use a critique group or not is up to you, but there are ways to get the most out of your critique group.

First, a critique group should be comprised of fellow writers who share common goals, and it works best if they're writing in the same genre. For example, if you write children's picture books, and another person writes memoirs, it fits best if you join a group that writes picture books and let the other find a memoir group. Look at it this way: if you have a forest green couch, and your partner buys a bright orange floral couch, there won't be a good fit in the living room!

Second, a critique group should be comprised of a small group of people, usually no more than five or six, who are committed to each other and helping each other polish their manuscript. Most online groups work that one writer submits a piece to the rest of the group and expects a critique back by the end of the week. Face-to-face groups can work the same way as well, with the piece to be critiqued sent via email a week prior to the next group meeting. Obviously, in either of these situations, it wouldn't work well to have more than five or six people because of the long time between critiques.

Third, when you join a critique group, you have the right to expect honesty in the critique from your fellow group members. Honesty, however, does not equal brutality. Just as there is always writing in the submission that needs addressing, there are good points in that person's writing as well. The good critiquer will point out not only errors, but also the places where the writer did a great job. Brutal honesty has no place in a critique, as it can damage and discourage fellow writers.

Fourth, as a group grows and changes together, relationships develop between the writers, and these relationships can foster a sense of comradeship and security. I have been in groups where the writers have bared their souls to each other in their writing, and did so knowing they wouldn't be slammed. The development of these relationships can extend beyond the critique group, and are an important part of networking with others.

Critique groups can help polish a manuscript and further the career of any writer, often times resulting in relationships that will carry through the rest of the writers lives. Whether or not you join such a group is your decision, but membership in a good critique can be a writer's best friend.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Self Editing Tip - Understanding "Beats"

The Fresh Beat Band

By: Stephanie Burkhart
It's been said writing for publication can be defined as "10% writing and 90% editing." Writing is easy, but self-editing is a challenge all by itself. Today, I thought I'd talk about "beats," what they are and when to use them effectively as you go back through editing your story.

A beat is that tidbit of action laced through a scene. Beats are usually used with dialogue. Examples of Beats: heads nodding, worrying or nipping at the lower lip, gazing out the window and fisting the hands. Those are examples of external beats. A short interior monologue would be an example of an internal beat. Using a beat allows for a couple of things:

#1 varies the pace of the dialogue
#2 ties the dialogue to the setting and characters
#3 allows for small bits of imagery - keep in mind: Use only small bits. Too much description can be condescending to the reader.
#4 beats anchor your story to reality

How many beats do you need? That depends on the ebb and flow your dialogue. If you're writing a high tension scene it's best to use a minimum amount of beats. If you're in a less tense scene, you might want more beats.
Remember: use "fresh" beats. No two people walk across a room the same way. People watch. You get some good ideas from that. Pay attention to beats that you read. You can learn a lot from reading.

I've also noticed that when writing a young children's story, that you still have to mind your "beats." You don't need a "he said," "she replied" after every bit of dialogue. (As I've seen in some stories) I've noticed my 5 year old's rhythm is thrown off if he has to read a lot of "he said," "she replied."

Reference: Self-Editing for Fiction Writer by Renni Brown and Dave King, Harper Resource, 2nd Edition, 2004, 279 pages.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How to Improve Mysteries

by Vivian Zabel  

          I take and read several writing magazines: The Writer, WRITERS' Journal, and Writer's Digest. All of them give me ideas and advice that helps me be a better writer. As I read some of the current issues, I realized that some of the articles included suggestions that definitely apply to writing mysteries, thrillers, crime, and/or suspense novels and/or stories.

          In my reading, and from my experiences over the years, I found some writing tips that definitely apply to writing mysteries and sub-genres.

          Some of the suggestions apply to any writing; some perhaps more to the mystery genres. However, all are usable to us. At the end of this article, I'll give the sources for the information I'm using, besides my own expertise. I highly recommend that everyone read all the articles.

          Create believable and distinctive characters. Have you ever read more than one book where at least one character could be dropped into more than one story, even if the names aren't the same, and no one could notice? I mean other than in a series or a sequel that contains the same characters.

          Ways to make characters believable and distinctive are several, but a few include 1) to have characters not be predictable, 2) to make them three-dimensional rather than stereotypical or all good or all bad, 3) to "show" their personalities and characters rather than "tell" the reader what kind of person they are. An antagonist shouldn't be a "flat" all bad, evil person. A protagonist shouldn't be all good without any faults or short comings.

          Include the four elements. Every well-written novel or story needs to have 1) a strong hook at the beginning to grab the readers attention and keep it.

          2) Conflict is necessary to have a plot, a story. Of course without conflict, we would have only a narrative, and we wouldn't have anything to interest a reader.

          Conflict leads to a 3) struggle, according to Diane E. Robertson, both internal and external. The ups and downs of the struggle make the plot move forward to the 4) resolution, the end of the story. Authors need to be sure that that end is not a false finish. The end must make sense and satisfy the reader. A surprise ending should still be credible.

          Make sure the plot is plausible to the reader. Often, coincidences are thrown in to surprise a reader, but if credibility is stretched too far, the reader won't accept it. Hallie Ephron states, "... never, ever, ever make a coincident integral to the solution."

          Don't conceal clues from the reader. The reader should know all the clues as soon as the mystery solver or detective does.

         I gave a few of the many tips found in three articles and a bit of my own knowledge mixed in.

Sources, besides the information I've accumulated over the years:

The Writer, Hallie Ephron,October 2008 page 26-29; Paola Carso, December 2008 page 28-29.
WRITERS' Journal, Diane E. Robertson, January/February 2009 page 46-47.

4RV Publishing website
4RV Publishing Bookstore 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On a Whimsical Wednesday, Enjoy Being Surrounded by Nature

 Just because we didn't "black-out" our site today doesn't mean we like bad new laws. Check out End Piracy, Not Liberty - Google   to learn more about what SOPA and PIPA could do to sites like the 4RV Newsletter.

"On a Whimsical Wednesday Enjoy Being Surrounded by Nature" by Joan Y. Edwards

Sometimes you need a little connection with nature to get your sails going and the ideas flowing. I want to share with you things I've witnessed with nature that were truly amazing.

In the 1990's when my daughter, Lorrie and I were at the Grand Canyon, it started lightning and thundering in the distance.  It was a beautiful light show with flashes of lightning and thunder sounding deep like the bass drums in a symphony. I wanted to get it on tape, so Lorrie used the camcorder and I used the still camera, and we took pictures. The next day a park ranger told us that lightning strikes about 300 people every year. Lorrie and I looked at each other and said, "Now he tells us." We were lucky we were safe.

When I went to visit the Grand Canyon about ten years later with my husband, Carl, we saw a coyote. He had traffic stopped and people were taking pictures. I love coyotes. I didn't get to take a picture on the way in. I said, "Wow! I hope that coyote is still there when we leave. Sure enough that coyote was still there. After I took a picture of him, he walked away in the trees nearby. I think the coyote knew that I wanted a picture of him. How cool of him to wait for me!

One December day in 2007, a lady named Pat came to help me take care of my Mother. She looked out the kitchen window and said, "Do you always have deer in your backyard?"

I said with wide eyes, "No. I've never seen deer in our backyard."

She said, "There are nine of them out there now."

By the time I got my camera they had all gone out of view. I said, "Oh man. Deer, please come back. I want to take your picture." At a count of twenty in my mind, low and behold all nine of the deer leaped back into my vision so I could take a picture. There were six does and three fawns. Then they pranced out of my view across our neighbor's lawn. I never saw them in our backyard again.

Look all around you, nature awaits you. Capture its moments in your mind, or on film and use it to create interesting highlights for your books. Draw a sketch of what happened. Describe it so that others can share in your joy and excitement. Describe it so well that others can see a picture in their minds.

On a Whimsical Wednesday or any other day of the week, I encourage you to take at least 15 minutes to notice nature that surrounds you either at home, at work, or in your vacation spot. Enjoy being in tune with nature.

Good luck with your writing. Please leave a comment and share a nature encounter of yours.

May your writing bring you much joy, health, and wealth.
Joan Y. Edwards

A glimpse of Edmond Author Book Fair

by Vivian Zabel  

     January 14, 2012, Edmond Historical Society and Museum held its annual author book festival. Four members of 4RV Publishing and Pen and Keyboard Writers (affiliate of OWFI) participated: Vehoae (Shirl Yancey), author of Conscience: Breaching Social Amnesia; Horton Deakins author of Time Pullers; Jacque Graham, editor and contributor in Walking the Earth: Life's Perspectives in Poetry; and me -- author, editor, publisher, and whatever jobs are left. 

     I took photos of our tables and activities, and some came out.

Vehoae at her table

Jacque at our shared table
Vivian visits with a customer
Horton visits with a customer

Vehoae and Liz Codding

Jacque visits with a writer
Vivian makes change for a customer
Vehoae and Jacque visit
     Sometimes book festivals and fairs result mainly in networking, getting our names and faces better known. Sometimes books are sold. 

     One important point when attending a festival or fair or book signing: Please do not block the author's table/booth and/or monopolize him/her. For example, one person who was not interested in purchasing anything blocked our table wanting to talk about publishing, his writing, his background, his interests. Several times, I had to talk "over" him to reach people who were interested in the books on the table. Yes, I'm the head of a publishing company, but at a book festival or signing, I'm interested in selling books, not recruiting authors. Other authors are also interested in selling their books. Visiting when others are not around is fine. Exchanging a few friendly words is great. However we, even if great fans, need to move out of the way of others. I also had to learn that lesson.

     I recommend writers and readers take advantage of book festivals and fairs, as attendees. Published authors should participate.

4RV Publishing 
4RV Bookstore   Yes, Christmas sale prices are still in effect.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Plan a Virtual Book Tour: The First Steps

 by Karen Coiffi  

You’ve taken the initial steps to begin your book marketing journey. The first rung on your marketing ladder is to create a quality product, in the case of an author, that would be a book. You need to create an engaging story, be part of a critique group, make sure the manuscript gets edited/proofread, and have a knock-out cover.

Creating the book might be considered Research and Development under the Marketing umbrella, and the foundation of a marketing strategy.

The second step or rung on the marketing ladder is the actual book promotion: creating a platform and brand for you and your book. This is accomplished through visibility which includes: creating a website, adding content to your blog on a regular basis, doing article marketing on a regular basis, and garnering guest blog spots on quality sites, among other strategies.

Once all the above is underway and your book is going to be available for sale, even if it’s for presale, now is the time to go on a virtual book tour.

Plan a Book Tour
A virtual book tour can be an effective promotional strategy, and you can initiate one on your own, or pay a publicist or book promotion marketer (tour service) to do it for you. Obviously, depending on your financial situation, you will need to decide which will work for you.

The advantages of hiring either a publicist or tour service is their wider audience reach. If the service is a quality one, it will have quality sites for featuring you and your book. When choosing a publicist or tour service find out exactly what you’ll be getting for your money. You might also ask around for recommendations.

I know of three reputable book tour promotion services:

The World of Ink Author/Book Tours
Pump Up Your Book Online Book Publicity
Author Marketing Experts

You can check them out or do a search for “book promotion,” or “virtual book tour.”

On the other hand, if you’re intent on initiating and managing your own tour you will need to post messages in all your social networks asking for bloggers to participate. If you are active in your groups, and have been paying-it-forward, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Try to aim for bloggers who have followers in your target market. While most writers belong to writing groups, try to expand your reach to groups and bloggers who actually have readers who will be interested in your book.

For example if your book is targeted at the middle grade crowd or children who read chapter books, you might look for bloggers who are involved in parenting groups, grandparent groups, teacher groups, etc.

You should begin this process at least a month or two (two is better) before you want to launch your book tour. It may take a while to get all the hosts on board, decide who will feature what, have reviews prepared, answer interview questions, prepare a press release, and so on. Give yourself enough time so you’re not rushing.

Once the Book Tour Hosts are Booked

For the tour of my children’s middle-grade fantasy book Walking Through Walls, as each blogger accepted my request for hosts, I created a list of their names, the dates I’d be on their sites, and what would be presented on each host’s site: a book review, an interview, an article (with the title), or a combination.

A note here: Offer a variety of content during your book tour. While your initial thought might be to promote, promote, promote, readers will quickly get tired of reading review after review, or umpteen interviews. Offer writing and marketing articles in addition to the reviews and interviews, and alternate their postings. Try to keep the tour fresh.

For the interviews and articles, you can add your promo at the end of the content. You might include a brief review, synopsis, even a favorable email a reviewer sent you (just be sure you get the person’s permission first).

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and freelance writer. For more on writing and marketing visit and sign up for her FREE newsletter, A Writer’s World. You’ll get TWO free e-books on writing and marketing in the process.

Friday, January 13, 2012

4RV Places in Preditors & Editors Readers Poll

by Vivian Zabel  

     The final tallies in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll show that two 4RV books took first place in their divisions, that three books and a book cover placed in the top ten, as did an author and artist. The company placed in the top ten publishers, too.

*drum roll* And the winners are ---

Children's Book:  1st place Walking Through Walls by Karen Coiffi, illustrator Aidana WillowRaven

Other Novel:    1st place Sparrow Alone on the Housetop by Jean James and Mary James
Those placing in the top 10 are --

Romance Novel:  3rd place The Joke's on Me by Laurie Boris

Science Fiction:  5th place Time Pullers by Horton Deakins

Children's Book:  7th place Gunther the Underwater Elephant written, illustrated by Ginger Nielson

Other Novel:  8th place Aldric & Anneliese by Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.

Book Cover Art:  5th place Strangers in the Stable by Jim Laughter, cover by Aidana WillowRaven

Author:    3rd place   Vivian Zabel

Artist:   5th place Aidana WillowRaven

Publisher:  6th place  4RV Publishing

     Usually the site has images that can be copied and used: one for first place and one for the top 10 places. This year, apparently they didn't. 

     Congratulations to all 4RV placers and especially to our first place winners: Karen for her book and Jean and Mary for theirs.

4RV Publishing
4RV Bookstore    We're keeping the sale prices for a while longer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Want to be a better writer? Read more!

by Laurie Boris

Happy news! According to the National Endowment for the Arts, daily reading, once on the decline, is rising again. Here are some good reasons you, as a writer, owe it to your career and to the next generation to keep making daily reading a habit.

1. Reading keeps you abreast of the current market. Some writers disagree about this, but reading current books in my genres gives me a broad idea of what’s out there and helps me position my novels in the marketplace.

2. Reading teaches you good writing techniques. Just like playing tennis with a better player helps you improve your game, reading great books urges you to raise the bar on your own writing. My favorite example is Zombie, a novella by Joyce Carol Oates. Somehow she made me empathize with a serial killer. I went from being awed by that on the first reading to drilling down to exactly how she did it, and the specific techniques she assigned to the protagonist in character development. Remember, it’s okay to borrow a technique (as long as you use it in your own voice) but NOT to plagiarize!

3. Reading increases your vocabulary. I love books that send me to the dictionary. I once told this to novelist/short story writer T.C. Boyle, when I met him at one of his events. He smiled at me, and then signed my copy of his book in Latin.

4. Reading helps you explore other genres. Some days I get a bee in my bonnet to try historical fiction. Reading them gives me an idea of how it’s done and the challenges I will face.

5. Reading makes the world smaller. Books take us through the looking glass, to faraway lands, and across the universe. In doing so, we learn about other countries, religions, and cultures. We understand each other better. And how can that be anything but good for you as a writer and as a citizen of the world?

6. Reading keeps your imagination sharp. For over ten years, I judged a literary contest for a local school district. I noticed an interesting trend. For a while, the level of imagination exhibited in the children’s stories declined. Then Harry Potter came along, and as if someone waved a magic wand, the stories flourished with creativity. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

7. Reading makes you more attractive. And why not? Reading makes you smarter, and according to some studies, intelligence is an attractive quality when choosing a mate.

8. Reading supports fellow authors. In this tough business of publishing, don’t we want to support each other?

Why do you read? If you had three minutes with a person who doesn’t care for reading, what would you say to try to change his or her mind?


Laurie Boris is the author of The Joke's on Me, from 4RV Publishing. She also blogs about writing, books, and the language of popular culture at

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wayne Harris-Wyrick's "Why Am I Me?" in OKC newspaper

posted by Vivian Zabel  

    In today's Oklahoman, the main paper in the Oklahoma City area, is a short review of "Why Am I Me?" by 4RV author and editor Wayne Harris-Wyrick. I've copied and pasted the article below. Congratulations, Wayne.

Family, friends stand out 

Charlotte Lankard    CLankard@   
   Being an only child, I never had a brother or sister looking out for me and cheering me on, so I particularly like it when readers give me a glimpse of what that is like
   A few weeks ago I wrote about three Oklahomans who authored books published in Oklahoma and sold at one of our Oklahoma independent bookstores. The next day I received an email from Randy Wyrick of Leander, Texas, who asked me why I didn’t mention his brother’s book. So I went right out and bought a copy.

   His brother is Wayne Harris-Wyrick, director of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium and author of a children’s book, “Why Am I Me?”    Dedicated to his son Ethan, Harris-Wyrick’s book explains the importance of things like dogs and cats, mountains and water, sunrises and sunsets, butterflies and flowers, rabbits and even skunks. About trees he writes, “Trees make fruit to eat and oxygen to breathe, give shade on a hot summer day and a place to climb and study the world from up high, with the birds.” Then he answers the child’s question, “What is special about me?” It is a good book for any adult to share with a child.    Since Harris-Wyrick, who writes a column for The Oklahoman, is an Oklahoman and easy to find at the planetarium, have him sign a book for that special child in your life.

   And to purchase the book, try another one of Oklahoma’s independent bookstores — Best of Books in Edmond’s Kickingbird Square. Julie Hovis will take good care of you.

   While I don’t have a brother like Randy Wyrick, I do have great friends, and because of this column I have met people all across the state. One of those folks is Jacquelyn Duncan, a retired Custer County associate district judge. 

     Jackie has invited me to her part of the state and we have visited here when she is in town.    After reading the column I wrote about my friend Arlene Johnson and her love of animals, I received the following email from Jackie and her own animal companions:    “Booray the Bichon Frise dog, Sookie the Maltese mix dog, Diva the calico cat and Red Beard the tiger stripe cat all join me in wishing you a 2012 filled with love, peace, health and happiness.”

   I wish the same for each of you.

   Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at  .

4RV Publishing 
4RV Bookstore  --  Christmas sale prices still in effect.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Does an illustrator need an illustrated logo?

by Aidana WillowRaven

Today's topic is inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter. A fellow illustrator asked, "My new website is almost done but I'm stuck for a logo. Does an illustrator need a logo/icon? If so should it be illustrated? Thoughts plz."

My response, "Yes, an illustrator should have an illustrated logo identity, just like a designer should have a cool design for theirs."

I further commented, thanks to XLT (eXtra Long Tweet), "Also note, when you do decide which way to go, make sure it suits our own personal style. Don't just go with the norm. For example, when I was working on mine, every artist I knew had a cutesy caricature of themselves bent over at a drawing table. I knew this would not work for me. One, I don't do caricature. Two, I'm not silly, funny, or goofy, like many of my art friends, so it simply would not portray me or any aspect of my personality or how I look at my work. I thought about it, stared at my wall, then saw what I needed. On my wall was my sun hat, hanging just above the shelf that holds recycled tin cans holding a multitude of colored pencils and brushes. Suddenly, my logo was created. I just had to sketch it. took me a whole five minutes to do, including clean-up in PS. I have gotten more jobs because of this logo than I can count. Good luck! :D"

According to Wikipedia, logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization (a logotype or wordmark).

In the days of hot metal typesetting, a logotype was a uniquely set and arranged typeface or colophon. At the level of mass communication and in common usage a company's logo is today often synonymous with its trademark or brand.

Your logo should define who you are and what you do, no matter what industry you are in. It is your first communication with clients and should be something you are comfortable with to continue using for a long, long time. After ll, you have a brand to build and plan to be in business a long, long time.

Don't rush it. Google/Bing "important logo tips," think about how you want to be seen, and have some fun. I mean, you ARE an artist. Stressing over a visual interpretation of yourself and your business is silly. :D

 Aidana WillowRaven
Art Director & VP of Operation

Friday, January 6, 2012

Meet best - selling author CJ Lyons

by Vivian Zabel 

          I first met CJ Lyons on two Yahoo email lists: Crime Writers and Sisters in Crime. Soon after I discovered that she would be one of the speakers/ workshop presenters at the OWFI (Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc.) writing conference May 1-2, 2008.

          Not only did I attend CJ's sessions and have her autograph my copy of her debut medical thriller LIFELINES, but she also joined me at my writing group's table at both banquets.

      Now, join me on a warm imaginary evening on a deck under a star-spangled night. CJ agreed to an interview, and I wish to make it appear we visited in person again.

Vivian: Thank you for allowing me to interview you, CJ. I enjoyed our time together at the OWFI conference. Please share with us: How did/does your history and home background affect your writing?

CJ: My mom was a voracious reader, so I grew up surrounded by books. I began reading at a very early age and skipped the whole "see Dick run" stage, going right to books like Agatha Christie.

          And fairy tales—lots of fairy tales. But not the sanitized Disney version, my mom had lots of the "real" ones—Perraults, Grimm Brothers, etc. I think they helped me to learn the value of a good story, how the hero's journey works on a subliminal level, and also that no happy ending comes without paying a price.

Tell us something about your background that has made you a better, or more caring, writer.

CJ: Being a pediatrician definitely has given me insight into how real heroes are born. Watching children and their families respond to tragedy and triumph has both inspired and humbled me.

          Since I spent a lot of my career working in urban trauma centers and as a victim's advocate, I also witnessed occasions of true evil—and saw how insidious it is, how easily it can hide in plain sight. And I saw how so many of us live our lives in a gray area between good and evil.

          That's the reality of our world. In my fictional world, I try to address this cosmic ambiguity, with many of my characters doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons—or all the wrong things for all the right reasons. I love stories of redemption, of triumph over one's own self.

Vivian: Please fill us in on your hobbies, interests, or activities you participate in during your leisure time. *laugh* If you have any.

CJ: Great question — strange to say, but I used to have a lot more free time when I was practicing medicine! Now that I write full time, it seems that almost everything is tied to the writing. Either getting the current book done, researching the next, or marketing the one hitting the stores now.

          But that's all good!. When you do something you love, it doesn't seem like work. And I've been able to expand my writing career to include a busy teaching schedule. Now I get to combine my love of travel with trips to give master classes, workshops and keynotes. This way I'm always meeting new people who share my love of storytelling!

Authors are often asked when they started writing or what triggered their interest in writing, but I would like to know what keeps you writing.

CJ: I've been telling stories all my life—took me a looooong time to figure out the difference between fiction and reality when I was a kid. This led to many hours in time out—which led to more stories fermenting in my imagination…..a vicious cycle.

          I honestly don't think I could stop writing if I tried. It's an addiction for me. There are so many stories to tell and so little time.

Vivian: You have so many projects going all the time: working on books, traveling, etc.; how do you manage?

CJ: I'm a lousy housekeeper. Seriously, you should see my place—my Christmas gift to myself was investing in a Dirt Dog robot vacuum cleaner so at least the floors would get done. Now, if I could just teach it to dust and do the laundry….

Vivian: Ahh, I knew we had lots in common.
          How do you manage to come up with the ideas for your medical thrillers?

CJ: Most of my ideas come from things that frustrate me and that I want to change. Topics that I feel passionate about.

          LIFELINES was inspired by a photo I once saw. In it, there was an old man wearing a VFW uniform with a lot of medals and decorations. He was holding a sign that read: Freedom includes the right to hate.

          I was caught by the ambiguity—here was a man who had shed blood to protect me and my country, who had earned my respect, yet he was espousing an idea that I despised. That it was okay to "hate" someone because we live in a free society.

          Then I read about the ACLU defending the KKK's right to protest during a rally. And I knew that I would use all of these conflicting ideas in a book someday. That book became LIFELINES.

          My second book, WARNING SIGNS, was inspired by my days as a medical student as well as a lot of recent high profile medical stories including the melamine contamination. I kept wondering, how does anyone know if what they eat or drink, the air they breathe, the medicine they're prescribed, if any of it really is safe?

          While writing it I was very cognizant of the fact that this is an uncomfortable subject for many. But I also wanted to be as honest as possible, to illuminate the courage I've seen in victims—and how an assault changes their lives. I can only hope that I did their stories justice.

Vivian: Do you have a particular writing process or technique that you use, if so, what?

CJ: Nope. After seventeen years of medicine, following a strict schedule, I totally wing-it now. I have my deadlines and they keep me in check, but I don't write every day or have a set word count or the like. I also don't write in chronological order—which drives my friends who outline and plot crazy.

          My only rule is: No rules, just write!

Vivian: How do you feel when you complete a book?

CJ: When I finish the rough draft, first there's this sigh of relief, wow, I did get it done.

          Immediately followed by a thrill of elation—Wow! I got it done!

          Two seconds later that's followed by: Wow! I have a ton of work to do—this thing stinks!

          But, when I finish the final draft (revisions from my editor, page proofs, etc) and it's gone to press and I can't do anything more with it, then I just kind of let it go….like releasing a baby bird and seeing if it will fly.

          The readers will decide its fate—all I can do is get to work on the next book and try my best to make it better.

What are your writing achievements and goals?

CJ: Achievements? I won a few contests before I was published: LIFELINES has been graced with many wonderful reviews, including a Top Pick from Romantic Times, and good reviews in Publishers Weekly, Newsday, the Baltimore Sun, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, among others.

          But I consider my greatest achievement to be the fact that I had the courage to take the leap of faith to write full time. So far I'm supporting myself on my writing and hopefully will continue to do so!

          As for goals—while hitting a list would be nice, writers really don't have a lot of control over that. My main goal is to continue to tell stories that readers love and to inspire, entertain, and empower. If I do that well enough, readers will spread the word and more readers will come…..

Vivian: How do any writing groups benefit you and your writing? Also, we might tie some information about your presentations at conferences with this.

As much as we love the idea of the lone poet scribbling in his garret, writing today is anything but an individual effort. Yes, it's your idea and your vision, how you make it come to life is unique.

          But once you entertain the idea of publishing you're entering a whole new world—a very strange one, I may add, one that it is best not to navigate alone.

          That's where the help of fellow writers is invaluable—the writers' groups I'm involved with have offered me invaluable support, motivation, inspiration, knowledge, and guidance. They include the Motivated Writers' Life, Sisters in Crime, PASIC (the published author chapter of RWA), and International Thriller Writers, among others.

I try to give back by offering my own knowledge and support—I have given keynote speeches and taught workshops for groups such as the Colorado Fiction Writers, Oklahoma Writers Federation, the University of South Carolina at Beaufort, RWA National, MWA's Sleuthfest, Lowcountry RWA's Master Class, Left Coast Crime, and PennWriters, among others.

Vivian: What advice would you have for a new author?

CJ: Follow the immortal words of Tim Allen (or Winston Churchill—always get the two confused, lol!): Never surrender, never give up.

          I'm convinced that the three key ingredients to becoming a successful author are Vision (know what you write), Passion (know why you write), and Commitment (know who you're writing it for). If you have these three, you can make magic happen!

          But always remember, you make your own road to travel—it's no good looking over your shoulder at how someone else is doing it.

          And of course: don't forget to have fun along the way!

          Thank you, CJ, for visiting with us.

About CJ:
          As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels.

4RV Publishing website 
4RV Bookstore 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who reads your manuscript?

Do you edit and read your own work?

The problem with trying to edit your own work is, that you know what you meant to say, but is it what you said? Did you get your point across effectively to the reader?

As the writer, you may be too close to the writing to be totally objective.

Having someone you trust to tell you what you need to hear from the readers POV and not what you want to hear is the key to work that may be what the reader will get.

Unless you are writing for yourself and have no desire being published than don’t worry about editing or having a trusted source tell you what you need to hear to have the reader get what you are trying to say.

If your desire is to be published and have the public read your book, than a writing buddy, or some other trusted source to tell you with honesty what works and what doesn’t in your manuscript will make your writing better and the story more readable.

My wife is my reader and tells me what she sees that doesn’t work, or isn’t clear to her. If I haven’t made myself clear to my life partner, how clear can I be to a reader that doesn’t know me that I plan on entertaining, inspiring, or trying to change their life while they are reading what I wrote?

As an avid reader for more years than I care to admit, I find books with typos, wrong word choice, lack of consistency in terms, and other blatant errors as a reader is a turn off. I only read these books for review and not for pleasure. Reading for pleasure should be enjoyable and not a chore as some authors.

Authors should submit their best work while always striving to make their latest piece better than the preceding one.

The opinions expressed are those of freelance writer, Robert Medak.

Robert Medak

Writer, Blogger, Editor, Marketer, Poet, Proofreader, Researcher, and Reviewer.

Robert J Medak Writing & More

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